Updated: Sep 22
The manufacturing “renaissance” in the US is seeing industry embrace new technology as it gears up to re-shore more production in response to cost hikes and logistics pain brought on by ongoing global supply chain turmoil.
When comparing the relative strengths of the US and UK manufacturing sectors, one prominent advantage for the US comes to mind: its military’s deep pockets, and in particular, its willingness to spend money on research and development.
The US has long seen the benefits of investing heavily in R&D – and with good reason. Initiatives such as DARPA have resulted in significant military and civilian technology advancements.
At the same time, the US has, however, tended to follow a fairly closed research methodology, making it hard for organisations with fresh ideas to challenge for funding which has traditionally gone to large contractors and established agencies. A case in point: look at how the space industry – dominated by NASA until recently – has boomed since SpaceX arrived on the scene.
But things are changing. It’s encouraging, for example, that the Air Force recently ran third-party software during an F-22 test flight.
While work on this type of project has traditionally been the domain of the mega military contractors, it's almost impossible for any single vendor, no matter how large, to be able to offer best-in-class technology for every component within something like a military aircraft system. It’s difficult enough for one company to excel at producing all the software required for the pilot’s helmet, let alone the whole plane.
It seems the Pentagon now understands this limitation and has decided that rather than outsourcing the plane’s entire mainframe to a single vendor, it’s prepared to create an open-source platform that other vendors can access. This will allow it to have input from third party systems as and when required, meaning it won’t be closed off to innovations not made by the core vendor on the project.
If the US military can understand the power of this type of solution open-sourcing, there's no excuse for the entire manufacturing sector not to get it.
It’s a crucial mindset shift the entire ecosystem needs to embrace because it enables and encourages third party systems to compete against each other to come up with much-needed innovations in the manufacturing space.
It’s an approach that will also help remove the manual inputs currently required in related areas including CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), simulation, nesting, file conversion, file healing, CO2 emissions calculation and many others where we are nowhere near the maturity levels we should be at.
Each of these areas is far behind the vision of a fully seamless, integrated toolset able to operate without expert users. Thus, each requires their innovative cycle to be turbocharged. One of our primary missions at Authentise is to shift the needle with this type of collaboration so the Engineering ecosystem is empowered to release its full potential.
We believe, for example, that having suppliers plugged into the same network and able to provide instant quotes can deliver significant advantages to all parties.
And with today’s supply chain challenges, having a system that makes it easy to swap one type of raw material input for another as the market demands is another example of game-changing functionality.
With heavy-hitters like the Pentagon now appearing to understand the power of open-sourcing, we’re excited to play our part in delivering the solutions that will enable it to happen.